I've written about how I'm a big sports fan, but I haven't focused on the I'm female part. This week, however, TouchByAM's tweets (Alyssa Milano's women's sports apparel line) led me to several women-centered NFL blogs. I follow the NFL, but am not a fanatic and even though these blogs are by real female fans, I found them quite offensive. If you want to check them out to form your own opinions, feel free.
I've put together my own list of 10 things women, or casual football fans of any gender, should know going into this NFL season if you want to increase your knowledge of the game and enjoy this season in a different way. If you are happy looking cute in your personalized team jersey and making ditsy comments about how hot the players are, you can find that stuff on other blogs.
1. If you don't know a player, don't pretend you do. Not knowing the starting quarterbacks for every team is not a big deal. Just pay attention and do some research about players who stand out to you. Find out where he's played and where he played college. Remember his number and as you build knowledge you can decide if you like him or not, if he's having a good season or not, and if you are a fan or not.
2. If you don't understand a rule, ask. There are lots of weird rules and it's okay to ask what's going on. It also makes the people who know the rule feel real smart explaining it to you. Then, listen and try not to ask the same question again.
3. Watch the game. If you don't really like watching football, then guess what, you aren't really a football fan and that's okay. Many people don't like football and you can take a nap, read a book or work on that screenplay while football fans watch games all weekend long. But just by watching the game, listening and really paying attention, you'll increase your football knowledge quickly. If you have time, watch Sportscenter, NFL Countdown, NFL Primetime, the NFL Network's Rewind and HBO's Hard Knocks.
4. Learn basic football vocabulary: kick-off, return, special teams, defense, offense, first down, line of scrimmage, off-sides, false start, encroachment, pass interference, completion, sack, running game, passing game, pass rush, tackle, straight arm, punt, touchdown, field goal, extra-point, two-minute warning.
5. Learn the basic positions: offense: quarterback, center, offensive linemen, receiver, running back, tight end. defense: defense linemen, linebackers, corner backs, safety.
6. Watch the college game. You might not want to give up both your Saturday and Sunday to football this fall, but future NFL players are playing on Saturdays and this will increase your understanding of the game and its players. Following NCAA football will also help you understand the playing history of current NFL players.
7. Play Fantasy football for at least one season. You'll learn about stats and become familiar with a wide range of players from various teams.
8. Buy into the story of the game. There is a natural plot line in any game and color commentators will try to identify this for you and play it up throughout the game. If you aren't interested in the plot the commentators are pitching, find a player in the game who can be your protagonist and figure out why you want him to win. Then you'll have your own game-story to talk about after the game.
9. Don't make comments about how cute or hot a player is until you've established basic background knowledge of the game. If you do develop a crush on a player, learn about him, what position he plays, the teams he's played for, where he went to college. It's not enough to just notice how nice his arms are or how good his butt looks in his uniform. You also might want to learn about his off-the-field life (is he single? a playboy? a partier? a politician) but proceed with caution. Knowing this information can deepen or ruin your relationship with this player.
10. Talk smack with caution. If you don't already have favorite players and teams, you will soon. The more you know, the more emotional you're likely to become during games. Be careful what you say and make sure you can back up your smack or be prepared to get smacked down.
Preseason is already underway, so I hope you're ready for some football!!!